UkraineAlert

  • Ukraine Inaugurates New President

    Wasting little time after winning Ukraine’s April 21 presidential election in a landslide, the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, vowed in his inauguration speech on Monday to dissolve the parliament and hold early elections. After winning 73 percent of the vote in the second round, Zelenskiy may be hoping to ride the political wave, and early polls show his party in the lead, with 26 percent support.

    Originally scheduled for October 27, elections for the parliament, or Rada, will now be as early as July 21, if Zelenskiy has his way. The new president also indicated a desire for a wholesale change in government appointees, and a number of officials, including the prime minister, Volodymyr Groisman, have announced their resignations. A new day may be dawning in Ukraine.


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  • Critical Questions for Ukraine’s New President

    Ukraine's domestic politics will change fundamentally in 2019. On May 20, Volodymyr Zelenskiy was inaugurated as president of Ukraine. The country’s upcoming parliamentary elections this summer or autumn will likely reconfigure much of the governing elite, and lead to deep changes in the country’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

    Five major topics will keep Kyiv and its partners busy in 2019 and beyond. None are easy. They include politics, domestic reforms, gas, relations with the EU, and the Donbas conflict.

    Since Zelenskiy’s inauguration four days ago, we have a slightly better picture of what is to come: the new president disbanded the parliament and called for early elections on July 21. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman will probably resign. But many issues remain unknown. Zelenskiy wants a new election law to govern the parliamentary elections, but the parliament has refused to consider his law.

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  • Where Should Zelenskiy Start?

    After Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s landslide victory, Ukraine is in a regime change situation, whether we call it so or not. The previous administration carried out great economic reforms, but the country’s law enforcement and judicial system remain predatory. What Ukraine needs most of all is rule of law.

    Zelenskiy has a tremendous popular mandate, 73 percent of the vote, but this is an anti-mandate against the old dysfunctional system, which has rendered Ukraine the poorest country in Europe. Ukrainians want Zelenskiy to break up this system and build something better.


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  • Strong Start

    May 20 was a historic day for Ukraine and beyond. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a political newcomer dismissed and denigrated by his political opponents, crowned his inauguration as president with an inspirational speech and decisive preliminary actions that have already borne results.


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  • Q&A: Ukraine’s Got a New President. How Did He Do on Inauguration Day?

    On May 20, Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as Ukraine’s sixth president. His inauguration speech was ambitious: he called for early elections, urged parliament to end parliamentary immunity, pass electoral reform and the law on illegal enrichment. He also wants parliament to sack the head of the SBU, the prosecutor general, and the minister of defense. What did you think of Zelenskiy’s speech? Did he strike the right tone? Are his priorities correct? 


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  • Nazi-Soviet Pact Anniversary Can Help Zelenskiy Heal Ukraine’s Totalitarian Trauma

    Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy waded into the bloodstained waters of the country’s memory wars during WWII memorial events in early May, posting a picture of himself alongside a Soviet veteran and a former member of Ukraine’s Insurgent Army with the message: “The key to peace today is unity among all Ukrainians.” This was something of a departure for Zelenskiy, who largely steered clear of sensitive historical issues during his presidential campaign while promising to move beyond the conflicting interpretations of the past that have plagued Ukrainian society since the Soviet collapse.

    Zelenskiy’s recent WWII photo-op indicates that as the new head of state, he recognizes he will no longer be able to afford himself the luxury of remaining above the fray. Instead, he must now take a lead in Ukraine’s memory wars while choosing his battles carefully, seeking positions that can make sense of the troubled past while

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  • Why the West Must Lean in Now

    On April 21, TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy won a landslide victory over incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election. By winning an impressive 73 percent of the vote, Zelenskiy secured a strong popular mandate.

    Questions abound about Zelenskiy’s core political beliefs and whether his performance in office will match his campaign rhetoric. Answers to these questions are speculative. However, we do know what issues animate citizens. Opinion polls consistently show Ukrainians want three things. First, they want a statesman who will stand up to Russian aggression and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty. Second, they want a reformer who will take a battering ram to the oligarchic system. Third, they want someone who will increase economic growth, boost wages, and create jobs. To the extent that Zelenskiy can make progress on these three issues, he will continue to enjoy strong popular

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  • Ukraine Needs All the Friends It Can Get. So Why Did It Boot the American Ambassador Early?

    Last week the Trump administration recalled US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch two months earlier than expected. Various forces within Ukraine's presidential administration, including the attorney general, had been calling for her head after she gave a speech that pointed out Ukraine’s lackluster commitment to reform on Poroshenko’s watch. The lack of an ambassador puts the United States in a weak position with a new Ukrainian president about to take over and parliamentary elections in October.
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  • Ukraine’s Most Urgent Need

    Ukrainians have considerable experience of the hope that comes with new beginnings and the disillusionment that often follows. The country has lived through repeated false dawns over the past three decades, only for the same old bad habits to come creeping out of the shadows and reassert their debilitating grip on the nation. The arrival of independence in 1991 was the first watershed moment, but this seeming historic break with the past was actually a deeply flawed compromise that failed to dislodge the vast state apparatus inherited from the Soviet era. Unsurprisingly, the rebranding of career communists as Ukrainian democrats did little to improve living standards or move the country in the right direction.


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  • Even if Ukraine’s Reformers Unify, So What?

    Five years after the Euromaidan street protests, Ukrainians are still waiting for transformative leaders and justice. On May 20, political newcomer Volodymyr Zelenskiy will be sworn in as president. But that won’t necessarily result in a significant change for the country: Ukraine’s next president is inexperienced and his links to oligarchs are troubling. Its parliament, theleast trusted body in the country, makes the most important decisions and appoints the government. And there are signs afoot that the forces there will be anything but new.

    Ukraine holds its parliamentary elections on October 27. Now that the May holidays have passed, politics is in full swing and every politician is preening and gearing up for the next fight. As of now, however,

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